HE spoke with much apparent deliberation when Pope Francis last Sunday, on his return trip from Poland, said to reporters, “I don’t think it is right to equate Islam with violence.”
He was absolutely right to say that Catholics could be just as deadly as Muslims. He had earlier refused to name Islam as the ideological culprit in the killing of an old priest, beloved of the people in a small town in northern France. The ISIS inspired Muslims raided a parish church while Mass was going on and slit the throat of the old parish priest. The gang took hostages.
“In almost every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. We have them too in [Christianity],” he said.
“If I have to talk about Islamic violence I have to also talk about Christian violence. Every day in the newspapers I see violence in Italy, someone kills his girlfriend, another kills his mother-in-law, and these are baptized Catholics.”
The Holy Father said religion was not the driving force behind the violence.
“You can kill with the tongue as well as the knife,” he said, in an apparent reference to a rise in populist parties fuelling racism and xenophobia.
Respect for bodily integrity
Point 2297 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches this: “Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.”
It is unfortunate that because of the merciless attacks on innocent people by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), some politicians and government officials in Europe and the United States have begun to think that violence against Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims is an essential doctrine of the Islamic religion.
That mentality is wrong.
That mentality is like that of non-Christians who have come to think that corruption must be essential to the Christian Faith. For governments controlled by baptized Christians all over the whole world are riddled with corrupt officials.
Pope Francis counseled Europeans to look closer to home. He said “terrorism… grows where the God of money is put first” and “where there are no other options.”
“How many of our European young have we left empty of ideals, with no work, so they turn to drugs, to alcohol, and sign up with fundamentalist groups?” he asked.
Meanwhile, all mankind should not forget that conquering hordes of Christians at war with other Christian kingdoms who pillaged the “enemy” cities and committed atrocities against fellow Christians.
Peace and love for fellow man is the basic teaching of all religions, including Islam.
Point 2304 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
“Respect for and development of human life require peace. Peace is not merely the absence of war, and it is not limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. Peace cannot be attained on earth without safeguarding the goods of persons, free communication among men, respect for the dignity of persons and peoples, and the assiduous practice of fraternity. Peace is ‘the tranquility of order.’ Peace is the work of justice and the effect of charity.”